Rep. Stace Nelson (R-25/Fulton) reports on Twitter and Facebook that he and his Hanson County neighbors have prevailed in court against Brookings dairy developer Michael Crinion. Hanson County Concerned Citizens took their county to court, contending that CAFO kingpin Crinion had not acted within the standard time frame (18 months, I seem to recall) allowed for conditional use permits and that Hanson County was breaking its own rules by letting Crinion indefinitely delay the dairy without re-applying for a permit. In a 14-page ruling, Judge Tim Bjorkman agrees.

I'm hoping to get a look at the ruling shortly. But in the mean time...

Yup, Representative Stace Nelson is Hanson County's buddy, too... as is Rep. R. Shawn Tornow (R-14/Sioux Falls), who successfully argued Hanson County Concerned Citizens' case. Hey, maybe Counselor Tornow should call Barger Construction to help them get their $23,000 from Lake County Dairy!

Update 2012.08.16 06:33 MDT: I've posted a copy of Judge Bjorkman's ruling online. Some highlights:

  1. The problem wasn't that the dairy delayed construction. Hanson County issued the conditional use permit in violation of its own rules from the beginning. The county Board of Adjustment approved the conditional use permit on August 24, 2007. Developers Crinion and Hugo and Darlene Iburg said they planned to break ground on the dairy in 2009 and have the facility in operation in 2010. Five years later, there is no dairy. Hanson County's Zoning Ordinance says the county shall cancel a permit if work doesn't start within 180 days of issuance or if work isn't done within two years of issuance.
  2. Hanson County never adopted a formal resolution exempting Hanson County Dairy from the county's statutory timeline.
  3. Without a resolution, there was no decision for Hanson County Concerned Citizens to appeal; however, Judge Bjorkman says this case is about citizens seeking a writ of mandamus to compel the county to fulfill its statutory duty. And Hanson County has not done its duty. Permit canceled, Crinion must reapply.